Einsiedel, Johann August Von

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Einsiedel, Johann August Von

 

Born Mar. 4, 1754, in Lumpzig, near Altenburg; died May 8, 1837, at Scharfenstein Castle, near Zschopau. German materialist philosopher.

Einsiedel was Goethe’s and Herder’s friend. (Herder’s extracts from Einsiedel’s works were first published in Berlin in 1957 under the title Ideen.) According to Einsiedel, the task of philosophy is to “reduce the spiritual world to the physical world”; in his view, thoughts are the “movements of the brain” caused by the external world’s effect on the sensory organs.

Rejecting the biblical myth of creation and the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, Einsiedel defended the idea of the natural origin of life and of man. He considered religion to result from ignorance and described Christianity as the religion of slaves. He criticized religious morality, maintaining that “true morality” is nonreligious. He attacked absolutism and the feudal order on the basis of the principles of enlightenment and democracy, and he condemned political and spiritual oppression. He was convinced that a “golden age” was imminent, when wars would cease, when inequality, injustice, and selfishness would disappear, and when work would become a pleasure. Einsiedel’s Utopian notions about the society of the future bore the marks of petit bourgeois illusions.

REFERENCES

Gulyga, A. V. Iz istorii nemetskogo materializma. Moscow, 1962.
Stiehler, G. “A. von Einsiedel.” In the collection Beiträge zur Geschichte des vormarxistischen Materialismus. Berlin, 1961.
Stolpe, H. “Materialistische Strömungen im klassischen Weimar.” Weimar Beiträge, 1963, no. 3.

B. V. MEEROVSKII

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.